What do I think of Western civilization? I think it would be a very good idea.Mahatma Gandhi  ( accessed 29.05.2018)

AMANO-temple from rubbish @ Hay on Wye-20180528-Bristol-8401

mini-temple contrasted from rubbish gathered over 6 weeks from around a village could be seen at the Meeting Point area of the Hay On Wye Literary Festival 2018

Of the new programmes it is written …

Presented by Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga, Civilisations explores the visual culture of societies from around the globe, revealing alongside the magnificent objects made in the West the wealth of treasures created by other cultures, from the landscape scrolls of classical China and the sculpture of the Olmecs to African bronzes, Japanese prints and Mughal miniatures.” BBC website 29.05.2018

I was interested by this programme having seen some of the older version, Civilisation presented by Kenneth Clarke in 1967, as well as being alerted to the newer version by a tutor from the OCA.

The first talk I attended at Hay-On-Wye about Civilisations was a discussion with Simon Schama and David Olusoga who were two of the series authors, about the making of this series; it considered the ideas, the art works, the locations and the way it reached millions of viewers. Mary Beard, the other author, did not appear; she was reported to have said at the beginning of the series “A woman, a black and a Jew … what could possibly go wrong!?!!” The series producer also joined and the event was chaired by writer and broadcaster, Clemency Burton-Hill.
AMANO-Civilisations discussion-20180528-Bristol-8387

the auditorium before the speakers entered

Was it possible to reconstruct the epic series of Kenneth Clarke? Needed to be global not Western. The BBC decided to employ three people partly for practical reasons; there would have been too much travelling for one person.
The new series was not an attempt to replicate the old one. As Mary Beard writes, “This was an attempt to not ‘re-make’ Clarke’s original version, but to take a fresh look at its themes with a much wider frame of reference, moving outside Europe …
Schama said something at the very beginning  of the series about his love of history for … “What is the present if not an …. ????” He immediately felt able to respond to the BBC request and is responsible for 5 of the 9 programmes. He says … “We are the art making animal … “
Palmyra is significant because it stands at a cross roads being neither East or West or belonging to a particular religion. Kenneth Clarke’s Civilisation is a masterpiece but establishment orientated. Today we are a global community!
When younger, David Olusoga saw how TV could make history and found this life changing! He saw Civilisations as an awesome task yet understands TV to be very good at communicating art
History of art not just a history of artists also about viewers says Mary Beard; “E.H.Gombrich, once wrote ‘There is no such thing as art, only artists.’ I am putting the viewers of art back into the frame. Mine is not a ‘Great Man’ view of art history, with all its usual heroes and geniuses.
Schama not so geared towards art as being socially oriented.
Nine episodes are not enough for a history of world art so each episode an essay on an aspect of it
Art wants to go beyond “white noise” of news; a resistance to the fatigue of the everyday News of the day translated into a more epic timeless context as with Ai Wei Wei’s artwork of rubber men in boat from 2017, an imaging of refugees who try to escape by boat.
While I personally have not met anyone who seems much interested in Civilisations, it has attracted a lot of interest and feedback. Already almost 3 million people watched it on iPlayer TV! It can unlock the world of art, illustrating more than 500 works of art which are explored.
After the talk, I chat with my friend Moray about the Civilisations programme but like many others he is not enthusiastic about it. The series is not easy watching, there is a lot of information being communicated and it is difficult to absorb it all. One might say it is more academic than Clarke’s version.
AMANO-Hay Festival tent-20180528-Bristol-8393
In the late afternoon, Simon Schama also gives a leading talk at festival which starts with clip about art from Civilisations and is largely concerned with the series. He did not want to write a book to accompany because issues too vast; his associates both did books.
Talks about Chinese art in which Clarke was also interested though his program focused on Europe minus Spain. He also discusses artwork from Mughal era.
Where art and love meet is what survives of us.
Creativity our last stand!
AMANO-Simon Schama on stage-20180528-Bristol-8390
Likes Tacita Dean who has three exhibitions showing in London presently,  for her use of film rather than video as film has texture!
Art appreciation can now be purely financial with work purchased for sale later. Schama refers to a Jeff Koons artwork as “utter shit” which of course brings laughter.
The programmes have been described as warm and cuddly, The Guardian view of art across the globe; this is one criticism that Schama disputes.
Questioner says so much about context in academia that one can no longer express one’s feelings about works of art. Schama says contemporary theory has reacted to previous connoisseurship.
After the talk, there is dinner with my friends (Moray, Julie and Sarah) as well as Julie, one of my mother’s carers also a friend, before we all go to see a concert, Amazones Afriques. This is inspirational music and while some of the audience leave perhaps because of the noise, I get up to dance along with others. Someone spills their G&T over Julie the carer but she laughs it off as usual.
AMANO-Amazones Afriques-20180528-Bristol-8398
It is gone 10 o’clock before Julie and I clamber into the car and drive back to Somerset, a drive that takes over two hours.

UWE MA students exhibition at the MPF

AMANO-MP Foundation MA show-20180525-Bristol-8373
Usually before attending an exhibition in the South West I notify other students; I may have already done so in regard to this exhibition of student work, a graduate show which the OCA advises us to see, but posted no reminder following recent student discussions. These were both anti-Martin Parr and what I would call pseudo feminist!!
Martin Parr is one of the most outstanding photographers of his generation but many people don’t want to see that; of course, he is not beyond criticism and his books about countries of which he is said to have only passing knowledge are questionable although one might also see this as reflecting the irony of the age!? Feminism is a”wonderful thing “ as an author friend of mine recently remarked but the kind of feminism fuelled by anger over assumed wrongs is meaningless and a very far cry from real feminism which is voiced by someone like Germain Greer who recently spoke out about the misogyny of “Mrs Brown’s Boys”, a comedy in which the central character is a man posing as a woman.
I take the train to Bristol but fall asleep on route so missing my stop. Last night was pretty sleepless so hardly surprising! Anyway I get out at Bristol Parkway and take the train back to the centre of town then a taxi to Paintworks, a new complex in which the MPF is based.
On arrival there is a glass of Prosecco! Meet Rudi Thoemmes who owns RRB Photobooks and arranges photographic events. He wonders why I was not at the excellent British Documentary from the 1970’s event which I had booked for but not been able to attend. The RPS are opening premises next door to the MPF so this will enable large scale functions to take place.
AMANO-MP Foundation MA show-20180525-Bristol-8368
One of the first photographers to catch my eye is Matthew Broadhead. He presents two equally sized photographs, black and white prints in brown wooden frames, which on inspection appear to be a diptych, a before and after of a country road with a river to one side and trees. The programme guide informs one that the right image was made in about 1869 and the latter in 2018 by a third-great-grandson. These kind of before and later images, rephotography in fact, never fail to attract me and remind me of photography’s power to record the past for future consumption.
AMANO-MP Foundation MA show-20180525-Bristol-8369
Another body of work in this Foundation exhibition that draws me has an obvious fine art theme with the depiction of a nude. The work is by Katie Dinnage who did her BA in Photography with UWE, the University of the West of England. “Through her work, she is exploring issues of vulnerability, emotions and self through her art.” She is discovering new life. Her website is
AMANO-MP Foundation MA show-20180525-Bristol-8378

work by Chris Hoare and guests at The Foundations exhibition

Rudi likes work by Chris Hoare which is titled The Worst Poem of the Universe; there is a small carefully constructed jumble of prints and also a book. This work is about reality, a narrative based around different kinds of photographs. It does not really speak to me perhaps because I have limited interest in pursuing it beyond the banality!
Sophie Sherwood photographs sea shells in depth and presents one image which looks like a large coloured crystal and is called Cosmos. Her work is being exhibited elsewhere in Bristol at the Tobacco Factory.
Another exhibitor who has done a hand made artist book is Jamie E Murray. The book is called Albatross and consists of images made at certain moments in which subject matter is presented without much thought for formal composition being rather asymmetrical views of Royal Navy life while on a boat home following active service. These atmospheric vignettes tell a story of homecoming as well as giving an insight into life in the Navy.
Another interesting group of images made by another M.A. artist have been made from a glass negative of a woman; this has been reworked in various ways providing an insight into the photographic process and the way features such as lines on a face can be pleasantly obscured or even exaggerated.
The invitation is from 6 to 8. At about 8, the party seems to be getting going! There is a queue for the drinks and more guests one of whom I recognise as a tutor from UWE Unfortunately though it is time to get going as I have a train to catch as well as another tomorrow.
Say goodbye to Rudi and Jessa who comperes RRB events. Although I am in time for my train it has been delayed by an hour so I hop onto another but not before consuming two pasties for dinner!!
AMANO-MP Foundation MA show-20180525-Bristol-8363

Activating the Archive Arnolfini Bristol 5’th May 2018

Activating the Archive 
Contemporary Uses of Visual Archives
5’th May 2018
AMANO-AMANO_ Bristol-walk to Arnolfini-20180505-Bristol-8203

view from the riverside walk to the Arnolfini

Early train to Bristol then a sunny walk along the river to The Arnolfini. The doors to the theatre are closed and do not open for half an hour as there is a problem with the projector. The Arnolfini bar do not have a non-alcoholic beer or lager so I go to café nearby and have to wait as the man behind the counter is on the phone! They also do not have an LA lager so I enjoy a Dandelion and Burdock cordial.
Will this day discuss the archive and consider its worth or are we just going to listen to a group of archivists talk about their work? It turns out to be a day devoted mostly to artist’s talks but they are enjoyable and detached in their approach rather than self-indulgent speeches.
AMANO-AMANO_ Arnolfini_registering for event-20180505-Bristol-8211

crowd forming while waiting for the doors to open: there was trouble with the projector!

The symposium starts with a talk by IC Visual Labs outlining their workshops and exhibitions. “Alone with Empire” is a forthcoming event about empire described as “ a 1-1 art experience combining photographs, film and sound from the British Empire and Commonwealth Collection (BECC) in a curated environment at the Vestibules space, Bristol City Hall. Working with our project partner Bristol Archives, this will be the first large-scale artistic commission using BECC material. Through this installation we aim to increase the visibility of an internationally important collection, within the city of Bristol, whilst also touching upon many current discussions around the city and its history.” There is also another similar event nearby in Bristol called Empire Through the Lens; the city has a strong association with the slave trade.
Francesca Seravalle  gives a talk entitled “Everything has its first time”
In 2013, during some ‘archaeological’ research to discover more information about the first photo uploaded to the internet, Francesca Seravalle realized that there were thousands of First Photos that reveal the beauty of the discovery of photography and have the power to change our society. “I started to chase many first photos (from the 1820s to the present day) following four tracks: photographic inventions, scientific and technological discoveries, historical landmarks, and first seen visions of nature.
First photo on the internet!? There are many different kinds of first image!
Inspired by Italian photographer Lorenzo Vitturi
Studied archaeology but physically demanding so changed to history of art Wanted to be a curator rather than a creative. Worked for Magnum in Paris Worked with Erik Kessels also on the archive of modern conflict in London as well as being involved with Japanese photography.
The body of work she is presently concerned with is a history of photography, first photos of different subjects which involved an examination of photography Owing to different processes e.g. 1843 first photo book by Anna Atkins,  first photoshopped photo by Thomas Knoll of his wife (Knoll is a Photoshop engineer). Often difficult to determine first of this or that so some images could be contested notably the first photograph!  1861 first projected colour photograph; 1826 Niepce first photo using camera; Fox Talbot first negative; 1832 first photo copy by Brazilian; 1839 first published image of a photograph. “Until Proven Otherwise” is the way her work is labelled She won an award at Format Festival 2017 Her exhibitions can be shabby! Integrating photographs in environment Highly original way of working with photography genuinely award winning! She is not a photographer but works with photography very cleverly Inspiring work also amusing!!
A short break 
Charbel Saad – Arab Image Foundation
Charbel Saad is the head of digital collections at the Arab Image Foundation. Established in Beirut in 1997, the Foundation holds a collection of more than 600,000 photographs from the mid-19th century to the present day. The Foundation has produced fifteen exhibitions and eight publications in partnership with international museums, galleries and cultural institutions. The collection has also provided an invaluable resource for artists’ projects, curatorial initiatives and academic research. The contents of the AIF’s collection reflect both the general preservation mandate of the foundation and the specific research interests of its members. The artists, writers, filmmakers and historians affiliated with the AIF have, to date, initiated research projects in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Mexico, Argentina and Senegal. The result is a dynamic and at times idiosyncratic collection that does not merely illustrate the history of photography in the region but rather situates a wealth of different photographic practices in a complex field of social, economic, political and cultural factors.
Talking about the institution but also the significance of the work today
Building Collections
Started after 15 years of civil war to gather imagery from a disappearing Arab world Collecting material such as old albums Called
Arab Image Foundation Not easy to get hold of photographs owing to conservatism Women removed from albums Images more from upper class though they did photograph lower classes
Not room to store photographs Fear of Islamic fundamentalism Loss owing to war
Publishing work of photographers
Conservation and Digitisation 
About 300 collections within this such as by particular family, photographer etc
Photo Jack a way to catalogue photographs by placing negatives between pages; not best practice but a valid approach to curating and preservation Scanning entire image along with colour strip eg IT 24 High definition
Scanning materiality of photographic object as well as photographs Digital restoration of images not necessary and can interfere Different methods of scanning
Collectors Photographers Studios and Families 
Photography at funerals established practice in North Lebanon
Marie El-Khazen a woman photographer from an aristocratic family Amateur who liked to play with different effects of photography She died in 1983 before giving any interviews on her work which gives a view of her world
Mohamed Orabi liked quirky scenes Lack of knowledge about subjects Guessing dates via practices Obscene photographs yet mostly of people in ordinary situations
Studio Fouad brothers who made studio portraits of the well to do Went separate ways Not easy to discover facts about them
Frank and Laure Skeels teachers of archaeology yet collection only emerged after their death Again little known about it such as why images made Egyptian photographing TV screen images, screen shots.
Arab Image Foundation funded by Western organisations in Europe and America not from within Arabia Employs seven people Focusing on multiple copies in different locations Not great IT support In Lebanon!!
More work by Arab photographers being published. Copyright laws exist so agreements are made with photographers
They are planning to launch a new website in September 2018 where high resolution images will be made visible For public not just professionals No National Archives in Lebanon rather privately owned
Kensuke Koike – Today’s curiosity
Koike’s collage works are known for his playfulness and humorous approaches to archival material. During this symposium, Koike’s video-art pieces from his series “Today’s curiosity” was screened at intervals throughout the day.
Some video by Kentsuke Koike shows using a pasta cutter to shred photographic prints then rearrange pieces!
AMANO-AMANO_ Bristol-Arnolfini_AMAK-20180505-Bristol-8215
Amak Mahmoodian – NeghaB
Not a long time passed from the invention of photography in Europe before photography arrived in Iran. According to Tahmasbooor (Photographer Naserod_din shah, 2002) as early as 1844 (1260 in the Iranian calendar) an Iranian woman, for the first time, stood as the subject for a photographer. The portrait was made by the Qajar king Naserod-din shah, who took up photography as a result of being given the gift of a camera from Queen Victoria. In 2004, I visited the Golestan museum and worked on my archival research for 2 years. Golestan Archives are located in central Tehran, which was once a home for Qajar women, and the king’s wives, Harem women. I looked at the archival photographs from the Qajar period and chose a number of photographs, which I used as masks. I started taking photographs of women around me, whom I see every day. In some photos there were so many masks on a face that I forget the real face. The woman hiding behind the mask of the past has many of the past attributes that I can see and feel. Women were the same women – does it make a difference what the faces look like? Women today have concealed their faces behind masks of the past, because similar restrictions have remained in place. The mask can hide the woman’s face but it can not hide the ‘truth’ which is behind the mask.
She is from Iran also another female speaker All so far from abroad
1979 revolution Amak learnt to converse with photograph of her father as she was separated from him and other family members
Decided to become a photographer as there was a need and interest
A king with 170 wives who learnt photography
Working with old albums that make up an archive but lack information such as that relating to feelings of subjects Names of people portrayed sometimes available Photographing women could have dire consequences
Diary published in 1992 helped Proud to be photographed but suffered hardship as one among so many wives Forced to wear black for instance Lack of identity Stereotyping of women! Telling her story gives these women a voice Using a photograph in front of the face as a mask; subject chooses mask! Bringing past to present. Collaborating not just with people she knew but also strangers. Now wants to edit photographs and make a book! Taboo to show man and woman together even if from same family How to read these photographs!?
Amak also tired of stereotyping by Western media so worked with making more intimate photographs of women also their fingerprints
Shenasnameh published by RRB Publishing; video available on Vimeo
A short break 
Vicki Bennett (first and only UK speaker)
“Processing The Product”
A talk by Vicki Bennett (People Like Us) reflecting upon 25+ years of creating audiovisual media, sharing information and insights on creating large scale works using preexisting material. Since 1991 Vicki Bennett has been making CDs, radio, and A/V multimedia under the name People Like Us. By animating and recontextualising found footage collages Vicki gives an equally witty and dark view of popular culture with a surrealistic edge. People Like Us broadcasts an ongoing experimental arts radio and podcast show on WFMU, called “DO or DIY”, which, since it began in 2003, has had over a million “listen again” downloads.
Over a million downloads of her
Been working with the archive for a long time
About working with layers of reality
Archives as databases
Shows Golem inanimate matter a piece made for Channel 4
Makes new stories from old; accumulating material on HDD for later use. Keeps lists to help retain information also a kind of map for making work A puppeteer bringing things together Mind maps beyond what one can
Shows The Sound of Music introductory scene with backdrop of war superimposed !?
The internet as an archive!
We Are not Amused for Channel 4
Lot of dreadful work around but at least it can be accessed and is available Sharing ideas Need to be restrictive in own mind to make work
4 to 5 months looking for movies with mirror idea in Resulted in The Mirror
Vicki blends sound into her visuals So incredibly imaginative! Facebook very helpful in research; people ready to offer help! What is nostalgia? Tendency to show one’s conditioning
The Remote Controller from Prellinger archive
About control
Not bothered about copyright, the bogeyman!
I found my interest in Vikki waning towards the end; her work becoming banal
AMANO-AMANO_ Bristol-Arnolfini_Maja-20180505-Bristol-8225
Maja Daniels – Elf Dalia
In 2012 Maja Daniels, photographer and sociologist began working in the Swedish region of Älvdalen inspired by the current generational shift, where negotiations and tensions between modern lifestyles and tradition – including the preservation of a strong cultural identity imbued with mysticism – represent an important contemporary struggle. Through making her own photographs of the region, and creatively appropriating parts of the archive of photographer Tenn Lars Persson (1878 –1938) within her work the community’s unique and mysterious eccentricity is reinforced. Steeped in both reality and myth, past and present, an imaginary tale influenced by language, mystery and local history quietly reveals itself through the resilience of the subjects, the strangeness of the events and the beauty of the land.
Considers herself a storyteller who uses photography Swedish! Has lived in London where she worked as a photographer.
Visited area where language similar to Old Norse Looking at community Used Facebook to help suss place out! Old pagan traditions Looking at landscape imagery of area Living there Found an archive on FB of the area Featured work by particular photographer who engaged in different kinds of photography of the area Was able to access 5000 of these images and made a low res selection (Maja is not-a good speaker though work is interesting; keeps on saying “you know!” Her English not good) Discovering archive of another photographer and unraveling it. Found out more about this photographer and his way of working Photographs of Moon! Her intuitive response to the archive is what mattered Making diptychs from work, selecting and sequencing work also combining images with her own No captions or stories to contextualise work. Shows scenes from pagan rites Working with kids who use the images from the archive to make their own stories The archive took her over; her work a response to the archive! She is doing a book of this work Will it contain relevant text? Yes but not original captions. Do the locals understand what she’s doing and can they relate to it? They have not really seen it but have been helpful. She is not representing them rather creating a story about them although there are histories of the region Their language is dying out with only about 45 adult speakers left. Maja also making films about this region.
Another short break
Beijing Silvermine by Thomas Sauvin
AMANO-AMANO_ Bristol-Arnolfini_Frenchman-20180505-Bristol-8230
Thomas SauvinBeijing Silvermine
Beijing Silvermine is an archive of 500,000 negatives salvaged over the last seven years from a recycling plant on the edge of Beijing. Assembled by the French collector and artist Thomas Sauvin, Beijing Silvermine offers a unique photographic portrait of the Chinese capital and the life of its inhabitants in the decades following the Cultural Revolution. This coherent and unceasingly evolving archive allows us to apprehend negatives in different ways. It constitutes a visual platform for cross-cultural interactions, while impacting on our collective memory of the recent past.
Made by while working for London based Archive of Modern Conflict later albums from flea markets then online Bought negatives by the bagfuls Been working for nine years on this project employing a scanner who scans some 9,000 scans a month Recognisable groups of photographs 1985 to 2005 period during which negatives were used by photographers in China
Lots of photographs of babies and children, people interacting with monuments (Thomas delivers his talk with a dry humour!) such as Buddhas and sharks, women interacting with flowers also man with cactus! Beach photos or by water
After scanning negatives then possible to make prints and exhibitions
Someone recognised her father as one of subjects via Facebook! He got to meet the person whose photograph he had “found”!
Another series of families with TV sets, people with pets, women posing with fridges etc
Many negatives in a bad state “which is probably for the best “ remarks Thomas who is not just interested in showing work but also discussing it!
Produces concertina books! Recycled photographs Book designed around cigarette packets showing custom of smoking at weddings also showing other customs like couple eating a single tomato Better to focus on a subject than a person
Another book an origami construction with photographic prints contained in sections, capsules each telling a story through prints
Website Instagram to share imagery as well as making books Likes to collaborate with other photographers and people working in a similar way such as Kentsuke gives useful info albeit irrelevant captioning for found photos that have a date imprinted on them
Selection process seldom involves censorship
Buys negatives by kilo !
The day ends! It has over run by 45 minutes